How I Became a Movie Plot: Going Back to School as a Real Adult


Throughout the entire 2000s, my dad purchased two DVDs — Old School and, well, I cannot even remember the other one because it is insignificant in this anecdote. If you were ever to meet my dad, you would quickly understand my amusement with his ever-so-small DVD collection. 

A semi-serious man who is goal-oriented and driven, my dad, although he has a creative sense of humor, does not seem like the type of person to appreciate such a cinematic, erm, classic. I recently found my adult self sharing this chuckle with my husband.

“You know, the one where Will Ferrell and that Wilson brother go back to college? It’s a comedy because they’re so old?” I said.

Waiting for my epiphany, my husband gave me a blank stare. 

So old… SO OLD? Upon further reflection, I realized those seemingly “old” men going back to college life? Yeah, they’re definitely portraying 30-something-year-olds! 

*GASP* I am thirty-two years old. I recently went back to school to obtain my master’s degree. I AM BASICALLY THE PLOT OF OLD SCHOOL.

Okay, okay, I am probably being a little dramatic here. 

I am not rushing a fraternity (been there, done that Greek life thing), nor am I pursuing a relationship with Ellen Pompeo. However, I would be lying to you all if I told you going back to college has been easy, especially as a new mother.

For starters, everything is online. This makes sense, and it is convenient for me as a new stay-at-home parent. Though, the first few days after my enrollment, I found myself lost in cyberspace. 

I could not help but shake my head as I muttered the question, “How do I get to my school e-mail?” to my advisor. Suddenly, every moment I had teased people of older generations for not understanding that one, a computer can always simply be restarted and, two, AOL has mostly been left in the days of dial-up came flooding back to me. I have never felt so dated in my entire life.

Back in my day, there was one single location for your school e-mail, and to find it, you went to a website. I only needed one-factor authentication to log into a university website. Books were entirely physical items, which could be purchased at the campus bookstore, and discussions were held in person. A lot has changed in ten-ish years, though. If I was going to do this, I needed to figure it out.

After several calls to the IT department, I located my e-mail. Phew, check. (To be fair, this issue was not due entirely my incompetence, but that is beside the point.) Now, navigating the learning hub, where all of my work would occur, was a different story. However, I won’t take you further through my technological trials. I will, though, present my triumphs. 

I have engaged with an academic text and enjoyed it for the first time in almost a decade. I have discussed intellectual topics with my peers in an online forum. I have voiced my opinion and used professional research to support that viewpoint. I have tackled a type of assignment that I have never attempted before. I have collaborated with a group of fellow students digitally in several different avenues. I have received my first A in a very long time. I have spent countless hours already hastily typing away to speak volumes on a topic I am passionate about. I have felt tired but empowered. I have fed my daughter a nutritious meal while simultaneously brainstorming for an upcoming essay. I have successfully put her to bed and read assigned chapters with a cup of caffeine in hand. 

I have learned. I have reflected. I have grown. I have conquered… well, my e-mail, at least. 

All jokes aside, though, I am proud of myself. It is only four weeks into this journey, and I have already tackled so much. As I told my husband, I knew it would not be easy, but it has been a while since I have been challenged this much. I was content with my old position and the life I had before my child; however, I became complacent. 

Sometimes, too much comfort can irk you into trying something new, jumping into the unfamiliar, or pushing you to do something nearly crazy. In the past, that would have meant wearing a crop top in twenty-degree temperatures to a local watering hole or dyeing my hair “silver” (I know, I know it was just grey…) to escape my “comfort,” but no, my thirties called for something more. It called for going back to school. (Click here to see another mother’s experience going back to school!)

So, sure, I have, in a way, become the plot of Old School, but more importantly, I have become the plot of other films too. I am working hard to achieve something I so badly desire, like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. I am owning this “crazy” situation in which I have put myself, like Ferris in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I am shaking things up, like the Bellas in Pitch Perfect, and coincidentally enough, I am surpassing others’ expectations of me, like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s characters in The Internship. Most importantly, though, I am proving to myself that I am worthy of happiness and growth, and quite honestly – what movie plot is better than that?


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